Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

One thing that has become clear to me after a year of reading the Truehope message boards is that recovery often has two factors - the nutritional support that Empowerplus provides, and a dedicated approach to challenging your negative thoughts through something like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

I think anyone who wrestles with depression, be it bipolar or unipolar, would benefit a great deal from the knowledge and practice of CBT.  I was introduced to CBT through the book Feeling Good by David Burns, and really, it is the only book I ever needed.  CBT teaches you to recognize your depressed thoughts and challenge them.  CBT is something you have to practice.  I did not read the book and instantly become cured.  But I did start to see how one depressed thought feeds another, until you are spiralling down into a very dark place, and over time I got better and better at stopping the spiral before the depression really got hold.

Even once I got good at CBT I wasn't cured of my depression, though.  For me there was a strong physical component as well, and it took Empowerplus to take care of that.  But, I strongly feel that having CBT in my toolbelt is what enabled my mood to improve so much early in the Truehope process.

Another tool that really helped my application of CBT and my recovery overall has been mindfulness meditation.  I have been practicing meditation on and off for many years, and I think that mindfulness meditation, which trains you to observe your thoughts, is extremely helpful for CBT.  There is even an offshoot of CBT called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MBCT) which melds both techniques.  I have read several books on meditation, and I still think the best one is by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English.

I highly recommend both these practices to anyone struggling with depression.  Results are not fast, but they do come, and the change is lasting.